Definition of punctilious in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌpəNG(k)ˈtilēəs/


Showing great attention to detail or correct behavior: he was punctilious in providing every amenity for his guests
More example sentences
  • A punctilious listing of every detail produces prose that is prolix.
  • But the methodology is painstakingly punctilious due to the heavy editing involved.
  • As a teenager he was not particularly punctilious in following the observances of his religion.
meticulous, conscientious, diligent, scrupulous, careful, painstaking, rigorous, perfectionist, methodical, particular, strict;
fussy, fastidious, finicky, pedantic
informal nitpicking, persnickety



Pronunciation: /ˌpəNG(k)ˈtilēəslē/
Example sentences
  • As I would expect from any chef with a season in Bibendum behind him, the basics were carefully done, the details punctiliously attended to, the whole satisfying at every level.
  • I should say he observed the rules punctiliously and if there has been a technical infringement I am sure he will have apologised.
  • A classic illustration is the fate of a hated major at Blenheim, whose grenadiers punctiliously granted his request to take his chances with enemy bullets, and only shot him after the battle was over.


Pronunciation: /ˌpəNG(k)ˈtilēəsnəs/
Example sentences
  • If government in our representative democracy is supposed to respond to people's stated concerns, then government punctiliousness about privacy might actually be exceeding the public's demands.
  • Welfare agencies divide people into racial groups for statistical purposes with a punctiliousness I have not experienced since I lived, briefly, in apartheid South Africa a quarter of a century ago.
  • But it is apparent that she does not bring to her financial affairs the punctiliousness she displays when wrapping the dog's biscuit in lace or sprinkling oatmeal with gold dust.


Mid 17th century: from French pointilleux, from pointille, from Italian puntiglio (see punctilio).

  • point from Middle English:

    Most senses of point ultimately derive from Latin punctum ‘a small hole made by pricking’, giving rise to the meanings ‘unit, mark, point in space or time’, from pungere ‘to pierce or prick’. From the same source are punctuation (mid 16th century) which makes small marks on the text; punctual (Late Middle English) arriving at the right point in time; punctilious (mid 17th century) attending to the small points in behaviour; and puncture (Late Middle English) a small hole. A boxer wins on points (late 19th century) when he wins because the referee and judges have awarded him more points than his opponent, rather than by a knockout. The point of no return (mid 20th century) is the point in a flight at which it is impossible for an aircraft to return to its point of departure because of lack of fuel and so it has no choice but to continue. Thus it can also be the point at which you are committed to a course of action and must continue to the end. To refuse or ask about something point-blank (late 16th century) is to do so directly or abruptly and without explanation. The phrase literally describes a shot or bullet fired from very close to its target, blank being used here in the old sense of ‘the white spot in the centre of a target’. If you aim or point a gun directly at the centre of the target, you need to be sufficiently close for the bullet still to be travelling horizontally (rather than starting to follow a downward trajectory) as it hits the spot. The more general meaning arose as far back as the 1650s. See also poignant

Words that rhyme with punctilious

bilious, supercilious

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: punc·til·i·ous

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